The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 11, 2013

Susan Redden: Galen Browning was well-liked, respected, lawmakers say

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Galen Browning was remembered with fondness and respect by those who followed him in office as Missouri state representatives.

Browning, 89, of Neosho, died Thursday.

Though his six-term tenure in the House ended nearly 25 years ago, local legislators who went to Jefferson City after him said he had an impact on their careers.

State Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, and former state Reps. Gary Marble and Gary Burton said Browning had been a mentor and a friend.

Richard said Browning encouraged him when became interested in state politics.

He described Browning as “a very nice fellow and very unassuming” as a person. He said he was deliberate and thoughtful in his service in the House.

“He wanted to think about things before he made a decision,” Richard said. “He was pretty conservative, and he hated taxes.”

Richard said that as the senior member of the Joplin area delegation at the time, Browning was encouraged to run for the state Senate after the death in 1990 of Sen. Richard Webster, of Carthage.

“He was asked to run, but he didn’t want to,” Richard said.

Marble, who followed Browning as a state representative from Neosho, said Browning was an adviser to him “not only as a representative, but as a person and a member of the community.”

“When I ran, he explained to me what it meant to be in that position,” Marble said. “Even before he was a representative, he was always concerned abut the community. His Christianity was a great influence; it always guided his decision-making.”

Burton went to Jefferson City as a Joplin-area representative just after Browning had left office.

“Even though he was out of office, he mentored us during the first year or two and would always be there to help,” Burton said. “He was one of the finest gentlemen you would ever want to be around.”

Browning was well-respected and well-liked by his colleagues in the House, Burton said.

“He represented the area extremely well,” Burton said. “He was one of those guys who got things done quietly. He worked closely with (Sen. Richard) Webster to make things happen.”

Rep. Bill Reiboldt, of Neosho, currently holds the House seat once occupied by Browning. He said Browning had run the family furniture store in Neosho before running for office.

“I knew the family, and I went to school with his kids,” Reiboldt said. “He was very well-respected as a businessman and a representative.”

Reiboldt said that in his travels around the state with the House Agriculture Policy Committee, he runs into former lawmakers who served with Browning or people who knew him.

Reiboldt said he had gone to visit with Browning three times in the past year.

The representative said he was not sure Browning always recognized him, but at his last visit, Browning had no problem reminding him of his political allegiance.

“I told him I was working hard and trying to do a good job to represent the district,” Reiboldt said. “He looked at me and asked if I was a Republican. When I told him yes, he said, ‘You’ll do great.’”

157th District race

The Missouri Right to Life political action committee has endorsed both candidates in the April 2 special election to fill the 157th District seat in the Missouri House that was vacated by Don Ruzicka of Mount Vernon, who was appointed to the Board of Probation and Parole.

Candidates are Democrat Charles Dake, of Mount Vernon, who held the seat earlier, and Mike Moon, of rural Ash Grove, who twice ran for the Republican nomination for Congress from Missouri’s 7th District.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.